Dear PM Modi, Dyslexia is Not a Joke. Learn More About It Here
Dyslexia: A learning disorder in children, the Prime Minister used it to take pot shots at his political rivals.
During a live interaction with young people on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to take political pot shots at his rivals when a student from Dehradun stood up to talk about an invention that would help people who suffer from Dyslexia.
The forum, called ‘Smart India Hackathon 2019’ was addressing students who were participating in a competition to find technology-driven solutions to deal with issues facing children and women.
Here’s what transpired. The girl said, “We have an idea to help dyslexic children, whose pace of learning and writing is very slow. But they have a high intelligence and creativity level as you have seen in the movie Taare Zameen Par...”
The PM intervened to ask if this program “could work for a 40-50 year old child too.”
What followed was laughter, guffaws and claps from other students. The PM let the joke sink in before following it up with another zinger, “Then that will make the mothers of such children very happy.”
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) issued a statement soon after asking the PM for an apology.
A lot of people on Twitter called out the PM for his insensitivity.
Dear Prime Minister, as the tweet above mentions, dyslexia is a common learning disorder that affects 3-7 percent of young children. And despite the popular joke, it has very little to do with a persons’ intelligence.
In fact some of the smartest people in the world have dyslexia. Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein to name just a few.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a brain based condition which makes it difficult for the individual to read and spell correctly. This difficulty occurs because the dyslexic brain has trouble processing certain kinds of information.
In an earlier piece written for FIT, psychologist Parchi Jain explains,
For instance, because of the similarity between ‘b’ and ‘d’, the brain may not always be able to differentiate between them and hence use them synonymously.
This is why dyslexics are often slow readers and cannot always read in a way that seems natural and without effort since they have trouble decoding and comprehending.
Symptoms like bad spellings and difficulty in reading are tell-tale signs of dyslexia. Children with dyslexia may often confuse matching letter and sounds – both while reading and while spelling them out.
Caregivers and teachers will notice that their best learning occurs through gesticulation and observation. Sometimes the dyslexic person will seem to have difficulty with vision while reading – yet eye-exams may not reveal anything. They will be poor with phonetics, think primarily in images (not in words) and can also have halting speech as they have difficulty putting thoughts into words.
An extensive list of symptoms and signs can be found here. However, remember two things: It’s always best to seek professional advice, and – no two dyslexics will have the exact same symptoms.
How can Parents, Care Givers Help?
There are lots of ways you can help a child with dyslexia in the the classroom as well as at home. But the first and foremost thing to be done is to intervene at a stage which is not advanced. The earlier the diagnosis is done and help is brought in, the better it is for the child’s esteem and performance.
Teachers and parents should allot time with the child wherein they can teach the child to write from an early stage.
Practising handwriting is a must as research proves that manuscript lessons help activate and coordinate the reading circuit. The earlier the child is taught how to write and read the alphabet, the more proficient they can become.
Repetition is key with dyslexics. It’s a slow process; don’t expect perfection from the start and try not to give up.
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